Overcoming ‘compassion collapse’ with crowdsourced CSR

Getting individuals involved in helping to tackle the world’s immense problems — poverty, hunger, unemployment, environmental issues — is a tough task. People don’t feel they can make a difference.

“The problems we know are so big that compassion collapse gets in the way of taking action,” Premal Shah, president of Kiva, a nonprofit microfinancing site, said in a keynote at Business4Better.

Premal Shah

Kiva tries to overcome this problem with a website that makes social issues personal and “human scales” the world’s problems, Shah said. The site provides information on entrepreneurs, such as a 25-year-old woman in Kenya needing a loan to help with her business, and enables individuals to make loans. Continue reading

What It Takes to Lead a Business with Social Purpose

E-Rewards and Give Something Back Office Supplies (GSB)are shining examples of competitive businesses that are doing business with purpose to change lives. At the 2013 Business4Better Conference, Kurt Knapton, CEO of E-Rewards, and Mike Hannigan, President of Give Something Back Office Supplies, shared their personal journey to create successful businesses that have a larger social purpose.

Mike Hannigan (GSB), Kurt Knapton (e-Rewards), Sophie Faris (B Lab)

“I am capitalist first”, spouts Knapton.  “While do social good is important, you need to have the business experience to compete at a very high level”.  Knapton leads E-Rewards, a fast-growing B2B research company that organizes survey panels made of up 6.5 million consumers in more than 40 countries. Knapton was inspired by doing something bigger and better.  He refers to Peter Drucker, father of modern management, who states that the business bottom line is measured both by business value and changing lives.  E-Rewards is a for profit company who now is offering its consumers options in the form of both extrinsic rewards/gifts and intrinsic rewards.  The intrinsic rewards are fulfilled through Kiva where survey takers can transfer their reward to microfinance loans.  The result is $250,000 in loans impacting 11,000 people in just a few short months. Continue reading

The right match: Sonic Drive In and DonorsChoose.org

When Sonic Drive In wanted to give back to the community, it didn’t rush into things. The company, which has 3,500 drive-in restaurants across the country, wanted to make sure any initiative had the support of its franchise partners. And it wanted to focus on education, unlike the health focus of one of its top competitors, McDonald’s.

Sonic ultimately decided it wanted to support teachers at the local level. To do that, it teamed with DonorsChoose.org, a Web-based nonprofit that enables teachers to submit requests for classroom supplies. Five years later, the partnership is still going strong.

“We took the right amount of time to research on the front end” to make sure it would be the right program with the right partner, Christi Woodworth, Sonic’s director of social media, said during a session on corporate-nonprofit partnerships at the Business4Better conference.

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Zappos Measures What Really Matters to its Business

Zappos has a transformative vision of business metrics.

At Business4Better, Zappos’s Jamie Naughton presented on the company’s famous customer service culture.We heard the normal stuff: 365-day return policies and surprise shipping upgrades. Zappos even offers new, just-trained employees cold, hard cash — up to $4,000 — to quit if they think the culture isn’t a fit for them. Better to get rid of them fast before they ruin a good thing.

What blew me away, though, was how they measure success in their call center. A company based on service, Naughton explained, can’t measure performance based on call time, time to resolution, or even sales revenue per employee. What matters, the whole point of the phone conversation, is for the employee to connect with the customer. It’s about building relationships. Relationships sell shoes. So Zappos needs to measure that. Continue reading